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Health Coverage for Retirees Continues Decline

A new report on retiree health care reinforces the need to maintain the Affordable Care Act—not repeal it, as presidential candidate Mitt Romney vows to do—and strengthen Medicare by rejecting “coupon care” private system proposals like the Romney-Ryan plan.     

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) report, “Employment-Based Retiree Health Benefits: Trends in Access and Coverage, 1997‒2010,” quantifies what we all know: Fewer employers are offering health care benefits to their retirees—both early retirees and those Medicare-eligible at 65—and those that do are raising the costs.

But, the report finds that many workers believe they will receive health coverage from their employer in retirement. Paul Fronstin, head of health benefits research at EBRI and co-author of the report, says:

The data show that workers are still more likely to expect retiree health benefits than retirees are actually likely to have those benefits, but the expectations gap is closing. By 2010, 32 percent of workers expected retiree health benefits, while only 25 percent of early retirees and 16 percent of Medicare-eligible retirees had them.

In 1997, 45 percent of private and public-sector workers expected to receive health care benefits in retirement.

Read the full report.

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